Sink into the Sea of Imagination

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Meeting the Masters of the Sea

On our recent voyage, with our third prototype, which is actually the second version of the digital prototype (confused yet?), we sailed into uncharted waters and encountered the "Masters of the Sea," otherwise known as Alex and Kevin, here's the lowdown of what ensued during our encounter(s).

Besides the fact that our "ship" wasn't functioning in the first encounter with the Masters, and having to manually and verbally explain the concept to one very confused Master, in the end the lowdown of the meeting came to one thing, SIMPLIFY THE GAME.

Feedback from the masters concerned major balancing issues, as they felt that there was too much for the player to handle and juggle, with the increase in size of the UFO by collecting mass, the need to worry about energy, with the supply ships and KOKE, the need to avoid different types of enemies, etc., the overall conclusion was that the game was detracting too far from its core mechanic and too many additional elements were in play besides the core mechanic.
Kevin, suggested making things revolve around the "cool" core mechanic of collecting and attracting stuff and increasing in size, to think about things that the player collects that might end up hurting them, and probably something that the player can collect to help him/her.

Alex on the other hand expressed the inconsistency that we had earlier about the mechanic of attraction, whether it was something that the player could turn on and off at will, or whether it was something that was totally uncontrollable. After one gruelling hour of sailing, we left the "Dead Sea" and had to return to the drawing board to redesign the next prototype.

So after 3 hours of post-lunch discussion, we came up with the some new points in concern to design.

- Remove the health / energy bar to make the entire game revolve around mass.
- Introduce positive and negative rocks.
- Negative rocks causes the player to lose mass.
- Positive rocks causes the player to gain time / planet health (mission specific).
- Rework the supernova mechanic such that it is used for mining positive rocks, the higher level the supernova activated, the more bonus rocks the player obtains.
- Remove level 5 and above rocks since the UFO does not go beyond mass 5.
- Redesign the level such that they are simpler, level one is now a race against time to blow up a comet and level 2 is the original planet defence.
- Players lose by time out or collecting a negative rock when the mass is 0.
- Increase the radius of attraction.

So with our new "ship" design prototype, we went for another voyage with the Masters on Friday morning. Our second voyage was generally more positive as the changes to be made this time we quite a lot less. But still, here's what they felt about the new design:-

- Remove the positive rocks as the neutral rocks were already somewhat positive.
- Keep the drop mechanic as a new element to be introduced in later levels, to give the players a sense of player progression.
- Think of how to make previous mechanics remain mechanics in later levels, especially the supernova.
- Introduce a cut-scene between level one and two for better logical progression.
- Emphasize on balancing the game.
- Think about how else to expand the game after two stages.

So there. The Masters' have spoken and we are at work on the new and hopefully final prototype. Let's hope all works out well and we'll build a mighty fine ship.